Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Boost Your Sales at the Last Minute

You’ve had a good year. You’re satisfied that you ran a decent sales and marketing strategy, and you’re about to wrap up your fourth quarter. But before you close your books and call it a day, ask yourself: Have you done all you can? It’s not too late to boost your sales, and meet -- or even exceed-- your sales quota before your year is done.

Boosting sales doesn’t require a monstrous budget. Nor should it be tedious. A little ingenuity, elbow grease, and fun alternatives are all it takes to get in there at the last minute, and turn your sales upside down.

Use these 9 steps to evaluate your sales strategy to quickly and easily shake up your sales slump!

 

Step 1: Have you contacted your customers lately?

You spent a great deal of time and effort perfecting your product or service so that it meets the demands of your intended audience. But are they aware of it? Have you sent direct messages to your customers, community or fans, offering them your solutions to their problems or needs? Don’t just sit back and wait for them to contact you; by using newsletters, three-dimensional lumpy mailing pieces, postcards, or even letters that contain a clear call to action, you can subtly remind your customers to buy your product or service.

 

Step 2: Do you have all the customers you need?

Telemarketing has become a dirty word in the world of sales but it doesn’t deserve its bad warp. After all, how would your prospective customers know that you have what they want, if you don’t tell them? Be persistent but courteous. And forget about making the sale right there and then. Instead of thinking of the direct call as an anxiety-promoting activity, think of it as an informative call. Tell your potential customers about your product or service and let them decide if it’s right for them. Even if they pass it up, they might have someone else in mind to whom they can refer you.

 

Step 3: Have you incentivized your customers to bring you new ones?

When they are happy with your product or service, your customers are your best salespeople. Do not squander their goodwill without maximizing on the potential. Ask them to refer you to their friends and family, and make it worth their while. Tying the sale to the referrer is key; it can be an elaborate set of promotion codes, business cards with a tie-in to your customer, or even as simple as a verbal confirmation such as “Joe told me to get this”. Make sure to reward your customers for the referral and they will be more likely to do it again.

 

Step 4: Have you targeted high-volume prospects?

There are natural pairings for your product or service out there in the community. Have you identified companies, associations, or large communities that would benefit from your product or service? With a simple gesture such as creating an offer specifically for them, or a more elaborate endeavor such as a webinar or teleseminar, you could get these potential big fish to promote your business for you. You create all the sales and marketing materials and they send them to their customers, exponentially increasing your targeted audience.

 

Step 5: Have you thought of joint ventures?

Closely related to the strategy of reaching out to your community is the idea of reaching out to other businesses for a product or service companion. Have you looked for a product or service that complements yours and can be offered as a part of a bundle? Partnering with brands that already have a distribution channel to your target audience insures that your product or service is distributed, or at the very least, marketed to your potential customers.

 

Step 6: Have you created a trigger event?

There is nothing that drives sales like a trigger event where your product or service can be put to good use. For example, if you want to sell more flashlights, create a “Thousand Points of Light Day” or a “Safety Day” where people are encouraged to have at least one working flashlight on hand. Invite your local law enforcement officers to demonstrate safety skills at your event. You can even invite your local preschoolers to sample your most colorful models.

 

Step 7: Have you run a contest yet?

People like to win free stuff. They will go out of their way to win something free, even if they don’t need it. No matter what your product or service is, you can create a contest for people who use it to submit all the creative ways that they have put your product to use. From “naming a new product” to “picking a new color”, you can also involve your customers in your product development. The more vested they are in the selection of new products, the more they are likely to buy the finished version.

 

Step 8: Are you using social media?

People are flocking to social media by the hordes. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are showing mind-boggling increase in users almost on a daily basis. Are you taking advantage of the potential of this marketing phenomenon? Your customers are getting savvy at finding good deals on the internet. Share with them insider information reserved specifically for the medium, and make it worth their while to look you up.  Engage your existing customer in a conversation about the value and benefits they’re experiencing with your product or service. You may pitch or sell directly on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, but be wary of angering your audience by being too aggressive or obvious. To make best use of social media, think of it as a referral tool that can reach millions in a relatively short amount of time (and at very little cost).

 

Step 9: Are you thinking creatively enough?

Thinking outside the box is what innovators do. Thinking outside the conventional marketing box is what good salespeople do. They see a need where there isn’t any and create a promotion to address that need. So go ahead, think big. Go on tour, like a rock band! Contact influencers in your industry and ask them to feature you (and your product or service) as part of their business for a day, or a week. This will be the perfect opportunity to answer questions, give advice, and build interest in your product or service. And once you have the sales and marketing information created for the occasion, disseminate it at other venues off the beaten path.

 

Whether your business is small or big, your selling-cycle short or long, you can apply these sales strategies all year long, not just wait for the doldrums of the year-end last minute countdown. Today’s technology makes every one of these strategies cost-effective and time-sensitive. Some of them require very little effort and planning, others can benefit from a little forethought in organizing and implementing. The good news is that, with a minimal amount of effort, all of the abovementioned strategies can lead to a more creative and meaningful way of conducting your business.

Boosting sales doesn’t have to be a chore, or an unthankful task. If you think of it as a game, a creative undertaking which sparks your imagination and adds fun to the job at hand, you will be surprised by how much you can still surprise yourself.

 

 
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